Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Evolve 61 Review

Evolve hosts two qualifying match for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic!!

Evolve 61
Queens, New York 5/7/16

1.) Matt Riddle vs. Lio Rush: ***

Riddle came out for this opening a match wearing Timothy Thatcher’s Evolve Title. Meanwhile, Lio Rush had some tape on his soldier, which I believe was the result of a minor injury he suffered the night before against Caleb Konley. Both of these men scored victories the night before at Evolve 60, and are looking to go 2-0 on the weekend. This match only went about five minutes or so, but for what it was, I enjoyed it. They were able to pack a lot of action into this match, and I enjoyed every second of it. Riddle was great, as he always is, but Lio Rush did manage to hold his own at points. People seem him mainly as a high flyer, but you shouldn’t forget that Lio Rush is a very good grappler and mat wrestler (I believe he was a very successful amateur wrestler). In the end, Riddle scored the submission victory.

After the match, Matt Riddle cut a promo taunting “Trashy Tim”, telling him to come get his title belt. He then tosses the Evolve Title up in the air (in a very similar manner to Tetsuya Naito) and leaves. As Riddle was leaving, Stokely Hathaway snuck in and took the Evolve Title for himself.

2.) The Bravado Brothers vs. "All Ego" Ethan Page & Chris Dickinson: ***1/4

Originally, this card was supposed to feature The Bravado Brothers vs. Milk Chocolate (a regular tag team from Beyond Wrestling) as well as Ethan Page vs. Chris Dickinson in a singles, but one of the members of Milk Chocolate (I believe Brandon Watts) suffered a serious neck injury, so the undercard was changed slightly. For a match that came together as a result of a last minute change, this was actually pretty good. Page & Dickinson seemed to work well together, and The Bravado Brothers were solid here as well. There was fun action throughout, and as a whole, this was a fun undercard tag team match. The Bravado Brothers getting the win here, which makes sense, since they were facing (essentially) a makeshift team.

After the match, The Bravado Brothers cut a promo calling out Team Tremendous. Dan Barry, one half of Team Tremendous, then comes out to answer them. Barry says that he & Bill Carr actually earned their shot at the Evolve Tag Team Titles, while The Bravado Brothers haven’t done anything to deserve a title shot. They agreed to a match in the future, but then The Bravado Brothers attacked Dan Barry. This was a very weird segment, in hindsight, because we never actually got this match.

3.) WWE Cruiserweight Classic Qualifying Match - TJP vs. Fred Yehi: ****

This is the first of two qualifying matches on this card for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. TJP had a lot of momentum coming into this match, as he had scored several impressive victories leading up to this huge opportunity. Fred Yehi, meanwhile, joined Catch Point at Mercury Rising 2016, despite not actually winning a match since he made his debut for Evolve in late 2015. Stokely Hathaway stayed away from ringside for this match, with was actually a nice touch, as it put over the serious nature of this match. As for the match itself, I thought this was great! There was a ton of awesome wrestling here, and it was so much fun to watch. TJP was, of course, incredible (as he always is), but Fred Yehi really showed a lot here as well. Combine this with his match with Chris Hero from Evolve 59, and it’s pretty clear that Fred Yehi has a bright future in Evolve. Both men worked very hard in general, and their efforts showed here with a great match. In the end, TJP put away Fred Yehi with a 450 Splash to qualify for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic!! The two shook hands after the match, and embraced in a cool moment.

4.) WWE Cruiserweight Classic Qualifying Match - Drew Gulak vs. Tracy Williams: ****1/2

This is the second qualifying match on this card for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, and I’d argue that it was the bigger of the two, considering who was involved. Gulak & Williams are not only the founding members of Catch Point, and the Evolve Tag Team Champions, but also mentor and protégé, respectively. I was expecting these two deliver a great match, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. This was a fantastic match, and for me, easily takes Match of the Night honors. Both me worked incredibly hard, and we saw some great action throughout this match. There was a fair amount of intensity in here as well, which makes sense, since both men know each other so well, coupled with the fact that they’re battling for a spot in such a big tournament. Gulak was, of course, very good, but a lot of credit has to go to Tracy Williams as well. I think I’ve said this before, but Williams has had a sneaky great 2016, if you just look at his Evolve work. Despite his best efforts, Williams eventually fell to Gulak, who scored the victory with his dragon sleeper, meaning that he qualifies for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic!!

5.) Marty Scurll vs. Zack Sabre Jr.: ****1/4

So this match actually has a interesting back story behind it, as both of these men actually spent their early years on the UK scene as a tag team, called Leaders of the New School. Both men are coming off losses from the night before at Evolve 60, and are trying to get a win here so they don’t end the weekend with a 0-2 record. I might be the outlier here, but I thought this match was fantastic. It wasn’t as awesome as the match that preceded it, but it was still great. Both guys know each other so well, so it wasn’t a surprise that they put together this kind of match. There were a number of very cool sequences, and their chemistry really showed. Again, in my opinion, this match was great, but based on other reviews I’ve seen, I might be the outlier. I guess it all depends on if you like this kind of match or not. In the end, Marty Scurll got the submission victory over Zack Sabre Jr., which might be seen by some as a mild upset.

After the match, it was announced that Marty Scurll would be getting a shot at the Evolve Title when Evolve returns to La Boom on July 16th. Scurll cut a promo saying that he was the best wrestler in the world, and claimed that he surpassed his former tag team partner years ago. As he leaves, Stokely Hathaway comes out wearing the Evolve Title, and claims that TJP is the uncrowned Evolve Champion. Drew Gulak then comes out and snatches the belt back from Hathaway. I liked both parts of this segment, but it was a little weird that they were kind of meshed together.

6.) Drew Galloway vs. Johnny Gargano: ***1/2

After the initial incident at Evolve 59, and the various promos that followed, these two are finally facing off. If you missed what happened, Galloway turned on Gargano after the duo lost the Evolve Tag Team Titles to Catch Point at Evolve 59. The feud, interestingly enough, seems to be based around WWE, with Galloway bashing Evolve’s budding relationship with WWE (and presenting himself as defending independent wrestling), while Gargano was defending Evolve’s relationship with WWE. We even got more promos from the two before this match even began. Galloway said that he was a leader, and that he didn’t want the support of the Evolve fans, who were all sheep like Johnny Gargano, calling them “slaves to WWE”. Gargano responded by saying that the fans make nights like this special, especially for the four guys trying to qualify for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. He then gave a shout out to the new production and the packed venue, before saying that Galloway was a douchebag who was just jealous of the various opportunities that people on the roster had been getting lately.

The match itself was pretty good. For the most part, the action was very solid, though it wasn’t exactly on par with the three matches that came before it. However, the match was greatly foreshadowed by how it ended, and the events that followed.

Gargano had Galloway in the GargaNo Escape, and it looked like he was going to win, but then, Ethan Carter III from TNA ran out and attacked Gargano, causing the match to end in a DQ. EC3 & Galloway fought off numerous attempts to stop them (first by jobbers like Earl Cooter & Larry Dallas, and then by TJP) while EC3 cut a scathing promo. Basically, the gist of the promo was that EC3 was joining Galloway’s cause against Evolve’s relationship with WWE. Eventually, Ethan Page ran the two of them off, and Gargano challenged them to a tag team match at the next show (Evolve 62 in Ybor City, Florida). In a funny moment, Gargano really pissed off EC3 when he called him by his WWE name (Derrick Bateman). Page ran down EC3 as well, and offered to be Gargano’s partner. However, Page notes that Gargano still doesn’t trust him, and suggests that Gargano team with TJP instead. Finally, he challenges Galloway to a rematch from Evolve 60 at Evolve 63, but this time, he wants an Anything Goes Match!

I’ll post the whole segment below (which Evolve/WWN put up on their YouTube page), because my description doesn’t do it justice. It was a very cool segment, and it’s amazing to think that we’re basically getting an Evolve vs. TNA feud, where the big issue in the feud is WWE. It’s a little crazy to think about, but its still incredibly unique, to say the least.

Overall: 8.75/10

While this show wasn’t quite as good as Evolve 60 from the night before, Evolve 61 was still a very strong outing from Evolve. The two qualifying matches for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, along with Marty Scurll vs. Zack Sabre Jr., were definitely the highlights of the show, from a match quality perspective. The undercard was relatively solid, but the final segment really added a lot to the show, in my opinion. The sudden and unexpected appearance of Ethan Carter III will definitely one of the highlights of Evolve in 2016, in terms of moments. When you combine great wrestling with very good moments and storyline advancement, you can never go wrong, and this show was proof of that.

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